It may surprise you to learn that judy casey is anything but the fancy filly you might imagine the owner of a luxury women’s boutique to be. Asked to name a fashion icon she admires, and to define her personal style, she laughs out loud and says she doesn’t have one. “I’m a blue jeans girl,” she adds. “Jeans and the best white shirt I can find—and a jacket that has some interest to it.”
Which makes sense, considering she grew up in Virginia horse country, where the hunt is paramount and locals are fond of names evoking all things equestrian, foxes and hounds. Casey opened the first iteration of the boutique in her hometown of historic Middleburg, hence the name The Finicky Filly.
“I found very early on that I loved dressing women, to have them look their best,” she explains. “My husband had just bought a property in Middleburg, so I decided to open a shop in it—with zero experience. My mom told me the thing she always feared for me was that I had no fear.”
That was 1988. Fast-forward 12 years to 2000, when a trip to the South Carolina Lowcountry led to chapter two of The Finicky Filly story.
“I just loved Charleston, so I flew my daughter down to have a look,” says Casey. “Rebecca loved it too and decided she wanted to live here.”
Casey says Rebecca had a solid track record in retail, so they eventually opened their second store on King Street, and she ran it until stepping down to spend more time with her family.
“In 2006, I sold the Virginia store and moved to Charleston,” says Casey. “Things are really falling in line now. A lot of people have joined forces on King Street to work together. I’m so grateful to Jordan Lash, Grady Irving and Croghan’s, which has been here for years, and treats all us newcomers with care and inclusiveness.”
Noting the diversity of shopping options on King Street, Casey says she differentiates herself from the competition by “catering to the traditional woman, with a twist—one who wants to be a little more upscale and classy.”
In the hunt for that defining product, Casey shops several times a year in Paris and Milan, in addition to New York.
“I love it—it’s part vacation and part having fun,” she says, adding, “I always find something I never thought of in terms of clothing.”
These days, she goes online, connecting with Zoom, which she dislikes because “you can’t touch and feel the product.” As pandemic restrictions ease, she’s hopeful she’ll be traveling again soon.
Among the designer lines The Finicky Filly carries are Veronica Beard, L’Agence, Etro, Rag and Bone, Fabiana Filippi, Rosso, Julie Vos and local artisanal brand Brackish.
“Our top-selling designer is L’Agence; their lines work for everybody—from 14 to my age. They have cute tops and the best-fitting jeans I’ve ever seen,” she says, adding, “We’re really known for our denim jackets made with vintage scarves—everyone is coming in for them!”
The signature jackets are a Finicky Filly exclusive, notes Casey, admitting she has “a knack for finding these things.”
Casey keeps things interesting inside The Finicky Filly with a singular approach to interior design. Rich cherrywood she brought from the Middleburg store covers the walls, and hardwood floors are softened with area rugs.
“I was so tired of white walls,” she shares. “It’s a cold look. I decided not to follow the trend—I never have. I wanted to make the store warm and welcoming, like coming into a home.”
That welcoming approach is part of The Finicky Filly culture.
“I insist upon it,” says Casey. “We’re pleasant to every person who walks through the door, especially now with COVID. People are frustrated; I think they’re tired of being inside. So, we do our best to remain calm and accommodating, to make this an opportunity to help them find something pretty and put a smile on their face.”
Also important to Casey is giving back—whether to the community, like her work to create an annual fashion show benefiting the Charleston Ronald McDonald House, or her own close-knit staff.
“It was bred into me. I won’t turn away anyone asking for a donation,” she says. “But my real love is helping young people advance themselves—three of my former employees have opened their own stores. If they want to learn, I teach them everything I know about retail women’s clothing. The Finicky Filly has afforded me the opportunity to give back to my community and to mentor aspiring young ladies. For this I am grateful.” *
Wendy Swat Snyder is a Charleston-based freelance writer.